How Long Can You Store a Wine Bottle?

As with most pleasurable things in life, wine does have an age limit, even if your wine bottle hasn’t even been opened. The art of wine storage is more than just a home for your beloved wine collection; it’s a space where your wine matures and gracefully preserves itself - arguably the most important phase of your wine’s journey. Ensuring proper wine storage for storing unopened wine allows for your wine’s life to be as long as enjoyably possible. In this write up we will explore how many years you can and should keep your bottles of wine, both opened and unopened. 

How Long Does Unopened Wine Last

Your wine’s life is very specific to the type of wine it is, however you should always go by the expiration date on the bottle, if provided. We know white wines are typically best for 1-2 years while red wines can last a little bit longer at 2-3 years. It’s fair to note that inexpensive red and white wines are created to be enjoyed immediately and don’t typically get better with age. The finer the vintage, the longer the years the bottle can and should stay in your wine storage to better with age. Fine wines are typically meant to be enjoyed in a specific duration of time, often communicated by the vintner themselves. The fine wines that are typically intended for long-term aging and preservation are fine red wines. The art of storing unopened wine properly plays a large factor in the shelf life of your unopened wine. If you are unsure what the proper process of storing wine long-term is, be sure to explore our Wine Storage Tips Guide.

Does Unopened Wine Go Bad?

Although your wine can last for many years, depending on the price, type of wine and how you store them, they should still be enjoyed in their allotted amount of years. If you go over the appropriate shelf life, there are several things that can happen to your wine, making it not desirable and undrinkable. If a wine is kept in storage longer than it should, you risk the wine becoming oxidized making the wine lack the freshness and vibrant flavors it once originally had. Wine does spoil, especially if stored improperly, which creates the undesirable aromas and flavors. Be sure to understand the length of time you can properly store the type of unopened wine you are looking to purchase to ensure you just how long you have to properly enjoy it.

How to Properly Store Unopened Wine

Beyond enjoying your wine, the most important step is properly storing your unopened wine so you can enjoy your wine at its best stage. Wine, with its delicate balance of flavors and aromas, demands precise conditions to age gracefully. The key factors influencing wine storage include temperature, humidity, light, and vibration, each playing a pivotal role in the preservation and aging of wine. The quickest and easiest way to properly store your unopened wines is using a wine fridge. Wine fridges maintain a consistent temperature range of 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of 50-70%, ideal for preserving and aging wine, with no additional effort from you beyond the purchase and initial set up. They provide the dark environment your wine bottles prefer and keep the bottles horizontally stored, allowing the bottles cork to never dry out. However, some wine collections need to be stored in larger environments or maybe you just prefer the look of an official wine room. 

If you’re thinking of creating a larger controlled environment for your wine, a wine cellar with a cooling unit is a great option. The location of your wine room is the first step in the process of creating a wine cellar with proper storing and aging environments. You want somewhere that naturally can maintain a consistent temperature range of 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, a humidity level of 50-70%, and no external light exposure. If the location cannot naturally maintain these temperature and humidity conditions, you want to ensure the space can withstand the addition of a wine cellar cooling unit to create these ideal storage conditions. For a deeper dive on if a wine fridge or wine cellar is best for you and your collection needs, explore this guide.

If you are wanting personalized assistance in creating an environment to properly store your unopened wines, connect with our team of cellar design experts

How to Tell if Your Unopened Wine Has Gone Bad

There are several methods you can use to tell if your unopened wine has gone bad or not. The most efficient way to tell if your unopened bottle has gone bad is to check for an expiration or best-by date. If your unopened wine bottles do not have one of these dates, there are few other signs to look for. If the wine bottle’s cork seems to look like it’s bulging out of the neck of the bottle, it could mean gas has built up inside the bottle. The gas alters the aroma and flavor of the wine and in turn makes it spoiled. If you notice any leakage around the cork and bottle opening, it most likely means air has somehow entered the bottle of wine and could also mean your wine is spoiled. If there is a potent, unusual and off-putting smell around the cork of the bottle, it’s likely the wine is spoiled. If the bottle is a clear glass bottle, typically with white wines, you can look to see if the wine is discolored, which is a clear indication of wine spoilage. Lastly, you can open your wine to do a smell and taste test. If the smell and taste of the wine tastes sour, not pleasant and lacks the wine's natural fruitiness, it has likely gone bad. 

If you follow the recommended steps to ensure an ideal wine storage environment, your wines can have their appropriate lifespan and gracefully age, ensuring the most optimal conditions for enjoyment when you are ready for them.

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